The fresco painted by Antoniazzo Romano in 1491 captures a refined image of Gentil Virginio Orsini in the simultaneous guise of valiant leader of the papal army and the militiae of Aragon and sophisticated lord welcoming the Medicis and young Piero to his feud.
Along with his military ambition, Virginio cultivated a passion for art, as shown by his hiring Antoniazzo, a painter greatly appreciated by the lords of Rome and surroundings. Virginio commissioned Antoniazzo to execute the gigantic fresco at the entrance of the main courtyard – currently in the Caesars’ Hall – together with the decoration scheme consisting of elegant ornamental friezes in the receiving halls of the Manor. The great mural painting, in which one can glimpse the most ancient representation of the Bracciano Castle, celebrates the Orsini family’s status at the dawn of the Renaissance, in their role of able businessmen and englightened art buyers.
Around 1550 Paolo Giordano, under the guidance of his influential uncle Cardinal Ascanio Sforza of Santa Fiora, initiated renovation works in the Bracciano residence. He softened the Castle’s austere image through the creation of elegant hanging gardens and the commissioning of frescos painted by Taddeo and Federico Zuccari.
In the adjoining nuptial bedroom, the newlyweds’ emblem towered over the large four-poster bed. At the same time, the ubiquitous scenes of Alexander the Great’s battle feats highlighted Paolo Giordano’s role as military leader and that of his powerful family through a rich repertoire of coats of arms. The latter emphasized the family’s ties with the Farnese, Sforza, Della Rovere and Colonna families.
Paolo Giordano «who, thanks to a perfect balance between magnificence and freedom, managed to unite everyone, especially his subjects», was a tireless patron of baroque culture, a lover of poetry, art and music. When he died leaving no heirs, this marked the end of the flourishing era of the Orsini, long before the Castle was passed on to his nephew Flavio, the last representative of the Bracciano dynasty.
virtual exhibition by Eleonora Chinappi